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Trying to find moderately-priced 9-speed chain is a pain, particularly with a master/missing link already installed. I can only find PC-971 master-linked chains from US market but shipping and handling ruins the deal. Then, I can find master links (like here) but haven't yet found a chain. Also, the seller will sometimes only ship to a limited number of countries.

How would you buy if you wanted a master-linked 9-speed chain? Would you buy the chain and the link separate or together like in PC-971?

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Ebay links are ephemeral, and often disappear in time. Is it possible to find another example link? –  Neil Fein Feb 15 '11 at 22:23
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@Neil Fein: there is a serious danger that the question becomes too localized that way but luckily Benson provided some good ideas. I tried to attack the question from different slant: buy both, separate markets links are perhaps for emergence situations while master-linked chain for durability, not to allow customers to mess up with chains. –  user652 Feb 16 '11 at 0:50
    
the cheaper substitute for the SRAM PC-971 is SRAM PC-951, a bit heavier, discussion about lighter chains [1]. SRAM masterlinks are golden and can fairly easily be found from ebay.co.uk. The chain is one of the most important part [2] so do not underestimate your investment. [1] bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/2735/… [2] bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/2790/… –  user652 Feb 22 '11 at 18:25
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've been in a number of situations where I was really glad to have a master link that I could pull apart. I'm a big fan of Sram's chains, and they're pretty reasonably priced here in the US. In your position, I'd try hard to find a chain with a master link.

With that in mind, it's worth having (and even carrying with you) a spare master link. If you do blow apart your chain, being able to put it back together is well worth the extra few milligrams in your bike pack. Since they seem to come in 4-packs, it'd probably be fine to just find a chain and buy a pack of master links.

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...actually just realized master links can also be useful if your chain breaks, good idea to have some with you! +1 –  user652 Feb 15 '11 at 19:58
    
You probably also need a chain break tool to remove the damaged link. –  mgb Feb 15 '11 at 22:04
    
Yeah, I carry a bike tool with a chain breaker in it. They can be pretty light and compact. –  Benson Feb 15 '11 at 22:23
    
@Benson: I have an XLC chain breaker but its head got loose, which breaker are you using? –  user652 Feb 16 '11 at 0:14
    
I'm using a cutter shorty: cutterbike.com/?cat=34&p=665 –  Benson Feb 16 '11 at 0:55
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